Thursday, March 29, 2012

Loquat Jam Making, or "Spring Fest", or Easter

Anita and her Loquat Tree, in
Broadmoor Subdivision
Introducing my puppy to diverse new environments led me to visit my dog club friend Sheryl's new house last week.  She moved just a couple of miles away.  We took Winnie Pooch, Charlie and Sam for a walk in her beautiful forested neighborhood.  Only four houses down I spied a Loquat tree in one front yard just loaded with ripe fruit, and began salivating.  Loquats are rare in Baton Rouge.  The trees are sold as Japanese Plums, an ornamental, and I don't know anybody who eats the fruit, except me.  They fruit right around Easter.  They don't taste like anything else -- sweet and tart, with a hint of almond.

Sheryl called on her neighbor the next day to see if we might pick some, Anita said sure, she didn't even know they could be eaten, she'd love to help and learn, and show us her dog, so last Sunday morning we showed up with buckets.  Anita came out with her laddar to reach high branches while we picked below, we played with her dog, she took our pictures and we took hers, and we quickly became fast friends.  Amazing the doors dogs will open! 

The seeds are large, 1, 2, or 3
per fruit.  The pulp is tart and tangy,
and smells like almonds.
Sheryl and I went back to her spacious new kitchen, blanched the skins off of 2 buckets of fruit, peeled them on her gorgeous covered patio while the dogs socialized, netting us 16 lbs of fruit.  I took them home and seeded them while watching TV the next night, netting about 10 lbs of usable pulp.  I also got busy rounding up, washing and sterilizing every mason jar I could!  Other people might find this tedious work, but I love fooling with food.  It keeps my mind contemplating earth's bounty, my hands busy, and my imagination active dreaming how good it will taste when prepared or given as gifts.  It's healthier for me being "near food" than just eating it all the time.
L to R: Michele, marking Sheryl
as "my Easter Bunny"

Tuesday morning Sheryl came over to my house, we got busy and in 3 hours made 20 pint jars of jam, three kinds:  Loquat/Mint, Loquat Spice, and Loquat/Apple Spice.  I designated her as my 2012 Easter Bunny, because she brought me lots of Easter joy!  We laughed a lot.  Girlfriends are so much fun!

After the Agility Trial next week we're going to take some to Anita and have a tea party in her back yard!  She offered us to come back and pick all we want, and I may pick another small batch to experiment with not peeling the fruit.  But otherwise I think I got my Loquat Fix for awhile, and enough jam to last a few years.  I still have a kitchen to clean up!  Baah!  That's the only part I don't like!

Our results, in an assortment of jars, mostly
donated by friends or saved.
I don't bother making jams and jellies of things readily available in the store.  It's too time consuming.  I concentrate on fig compote because my Dad loves it, plus elderberries and muscadine grapes I harvest in the wild, and loquats.  They all have a very distinctive taste that you just can't buy, and I experiment with different seasonings like peppermint, basil, nutmeg and various spices.  All that's left is to see if it sets, and make the labels.

Upwards and onward!

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